Streaming Video Alliance gets busy, publishing open caching principles

The Streaming Video Alliance (SVA), formed last year by a number of leading online video companies and pay-TV operators--but not Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) or Hulu--is making a start on some of its stated goals, publishing the guiding principles and system attributes of its Open Caching Working Group.

"Today's Internet architecture does not support efficient, large-scale deployment of video services across all components of the delivery infrastructure," the SVA said in a release. "Incentives between compute, storage and network have not been optimized as part of a unified delivery system."

Open caching would create a new layer of content caching within an ISP's network (aka the last-mile network) to put content even closer to consumers. The working group will focus on developing standards, best practices and policy around this new network function.

The SVA's 17 members include cable players (and ISPs) like Comcast and Charter, networks like EPIX and Fox Networks, transport and CDN providers like Level 3 and Limelight Networks, carriers like Telstra and Telecom Italia, streaming service providers like Wowza and Major League Baseball Advanced Media, and others.

The idea of open caching is a good one: Currently, over-the-top video data is cached ahead of a last-mile network, including at various locations along the public Internet, such as CDNs or on servers at the network edge, and then is routed through to an ISP's network when a user requests the video. This method has been a cause of congestion and a fair amount of contention between streaming services and ISPs. Open caching could reduce congestion by siting the content cache on the subscriber's side of the fence.

Would that work? If the various parties involved can figure out how to implement it in a way that everyone involved think is fair, it can happen. According to the SVA, open caching must be able to be implemented by anyone (hence, "open"), must serve any provider's streaming delivery protocol (such as HTTP or HTTPS), and be a shared resource between several providers. Content has to be treated fairly, and the QoE (quality of experience) for users must meet or exceed what they get today. Further, open caching must serve a network function--meaning it creates alternate network capacity and helps reduce congestion and server capacity requirements.

The SVA held its inaugural meeting in early February, setting its 2015 goals and establishing working groups as well as appointing board members. Publication of open caching principles and guidelines just a couple months after its first organized meeting is an ambitious step forward for the group.

For more:
- see the release

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